JUUL vs. Vuse Alto - Which is Better?

JUUL vs. Vuse Alto - Which is Better?

Vaping, an industry that is still young in many ways, is currently undergoing a massive change: vaper’s new and old have come to rely more and more on pod mod devices. These all-in-one devices focus on convenience and ease-of-use, which is why many people are keen to try Juul, one of the most well-known vaping devices in the country, and the Vuse Alto, a relative newcomer with small differences that wants to carve out a market in this already-crowded space, are two of the biggest pod mods in the industry.

Whereas Juul has been on the market since longer than the  Vuse Alto which means Juul has a considerable headstart. But, it’s worth arguing, it’s not who came first, it’s who has the better product that matters. These devices are similar in lots of ways, but there are tiny differences that help distinguish them as formidable nicotine-delivery devices.

Recently, I set out to compare these devices, and I put them through their proverbial paces — I tested each device for 5 days. There were features and design aspects that I enjoyed about both devices, and there were some that I thought could use some improvements. If you’re thinking of vaping from one of these devices, read the comparisons below to see how these pod mods stack up against each other.

Comparison Chart

JUUL

Alto

Winner

Performance

Inconsistent hit

Consistent throat hit

Alto

Cost

$7.14 per mL of e-juice

$3.75 per mL of e-juice

Alto

Flavor Selection

8 flavors

4 flavors

Juul

Battery Size

200mAh

350mAh

Alto

LED Lighting

Green, yellow, red lights give clear indicators of battery life

Flashes green 10 times when low on battery life — then dies quickly

Juul

Charger

Charges via USB magnetic attachment — CAN’T USE while charging

Charges via cable — CAN USE while charging

Alto

Aesthetic

Looks like a USB stick — non-ergonomic design

Rounded edges — ergonomic design

Alto

Score

2 / 7

4 / 7

Alto

Performance Winner: Alto

Can these devices perform? That’s the questions everyone asks. The answer: yes. The Juul is popular not because it looks neat, but because it performs well. Not only does it produce vapor, but it’s just so damn convenient. Just pop in the pod, and you’re pretty much set. There are no buttons, no need to change the coils, and no need to refill the pod — it’s the easiest, most convenient device in the industry. And the exact same things can be said about the Vuse Alto. Except that the Alto performs much better when it comes to delivering flavor, throat hit, and consistency.

Yes, both devices have a tight draw that is akin to smoking a cigarette, but the Alto produced the same hit every time, and the Juul, for reasons that I will explain later, did not. The Juul has, in my opinion, almost too tight of a hit. Sometimes, the Juul would produce a nice throaty hit with a decent cloud, but this was more the exception and not the rule. When I vape, I don’t want it to be a gamble, which is why the Alto is the better choice.

The Alto was more consistent, and it provided a nice throat hit every time. When it comes to flavor, both devices delivered, but the Juul was just too much of a coin flip. Overall, if you’re looking for a device you can depend on, try the Alto.

Cost Winner: Alto

Let’s do some math! Juul sells a two-pack of their pods for $9.99, and Alto sells a two-pack for $13.49. Pods from these companies are not created equal, however. One Juul pod is 0.7mL, which means that in a two-pack you get a total of 1.4mL. Not bad, right? Wrong. Alto pods hold 1.8mLs of e-juice, which means one Alto pod is more than twice as much as two Juul pods. A two-pack of Alto pods are more expensive, but you’re getting 3.6mLs instead of Juul’s paltry 1.4mLs — that’s a difference of 2.2mLs. Basically, Juul is charging $7.14 per mL of e-juice, and Alto is charging $3.75 per mL of e-juice. 

Juul is charging 90% more per mL of e-juice — that’s just ridiculous. Juul pods don’t have more nicotine, and they don’t taste that much better than Alto pods so this price gap is simply ludicrous.

If you opt for a Juul, you’ll be spending almost twice as much for pods, and that adds up throughout the year. Alto pods are just as good as Juul’s, and they don’t charge an arm and a leg for them. Another thing that’s worth noting is that Vuse sells the Alto for $25 and Juul sells theirs for $35. No matter what way you cut this cake, Alto is just more affordable.

Pods and Flavors Winner: Alto

Wider Selection: While Juul may have more expensive pods, it also has a wider selection. Juul has eight flavors to choose from to Alto’s four. I tried three Juul flavors and two Alto flavors, but my favorite was Juul’s Mango flavor. It was so freaking good, sweet, and with a perfectly balanced mango taste. Alto’s Mixed berry flavor was my second favorite because I love fruit and berry flavors. Purely based on facts, Juul just has more flavors to choose from. If it wasn’t for a catastrophic pod design failure, I would give this category to Juul. But, alas, dear reader, the plot thickens.

Airflow Problems: I had no issues with the Alto pods, except for the fact that the pod moves around slightly when inserted — this could be a magnet issue, or something else. While the Alto pods don’t sit as snug as I would like, it didn’t prevent them from producing vapor, and, at the very most, it was a minor annoyance. The Juul pods, on the other hand, have a major airflow problem.

Inconsistent: Juul pods, for some reason I can’t figure out, don’t work sometimes. Puffing on a Juul pod is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. I think there’s an issue with the pods not wicking fast enough, which produces a flat an underpowered hit. I looked online and found a Reddit thread that explained how it can be fixed. Apparently, removing the pod and shaking or flicking it will cause the pod to wick faster — if air bubbles escape, it means it’s working. Another option, which worked for me, is to remove the pod and slightly squeeze the top so that the coil can wick properly. As I said, it works, but I had to do it constantly, and that’s just annoying. So, yes, squeezing it does work, but, and this is a big ugly “but,” this can cause your pod to leak later on, which basically renders it useless. This is a shining example of the phrase, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

The Juul pod issue is extremely unfortunate because I really enjoy the mango flavor, but that’s just the way it is. Maybe Alto will debut a mango flavor that’s just as good. (Alto team, if you’re reading this, please make my dream come true.)

Battery and Charging Winner: Alto

Battery Size: Both devices carry a rechargeable battery, but the Alto’s 350mAh battery is much larger than the Juul’s 200mAh battery. With a larger battery, the Alto can go on for longer periods of time, which is something that busy or on-the-go vapers will appreciate. In both cases, however, the batteries are not replaceable, so if the battery starts having issues or gets old, you’ll have to buy another device entirely. There’s not much information regarding how many puffs you can get from a full charge on either device, but I did feel that the Alto lasted longer.

LED Lighting: The LED lights found on these devices are worth mentioning. Both devices communicate when the battery is low, but the Juul takes it a step further. Juul’s LED light will change from green when in full charge; yellow when in medium charge; red when it has low battery. Alto flashes green 10 times when it’s low on battery, but whereas Juul warns you way ahead of time, the Alto told me I had low battery and then died almost immediately, which left me vapeless for over an hour. This is only a small complaint, but it’s something that could, I imagine, be fixed with relative ease.

 Charger: Unlike most other devices on the market, these two don’t charge through a micro-USB cable, instead, they both use a proprietary charger. Juul’s charger is a small square that has magnetic attachments at the base. Simply slide the charger into any USB port, and place the Juul on it to charge. While this device is small and convenient, it’s easy to lose track of it, and the Juul is not usable while it charges. The Vuse Alto, on the other hand, uses a cable that attaches to the device via magnets, but, because it’s a pass-through cable, you can use the Alto while it charges — this alone is why the Alto has the better charger. I wasn’t able to time how long it took to charge each battery, but it didn’t feel like a long time. If waiting for the device to charge takes too long, it might be worth having two devices, which are inexpensive when compared to the cost of the pods.

Look and Design — Winner: Alto

Aethetics: From afar, these devices look almost identical, but that isn’t the case — the metallic gray case is about the only thing they really have in common. The Juul is a smaller rectangular device with angular edges and no buttons. The Juul’s pods are also rectangular and they have a tiny window on either side that shows how much juice is left. To me, the Juul looks like a long USB stick, but that’s not a bad thing. Overall, I do like how it looks, but it’s not the most ergonomic. (Side note: One of the designers of the Juul actually worked at Apple before, so maybe that’s why the Juul is called the iPhone of the vaping industry.)

Now for the Alto. The Alto is just a bit longer than the Juul, but not by much. This device is all about rounded edges and focuses on a more ergonomic design. Overall, the Alto feels better when holding it. The pods, which also have rounded edges, feel more natural, and I think that’s one of the reasons this device has a more consistent throat hit.

The Juul has been on the market since 2015, and it hasn’t really changed, but I’d say it’s time for a redesign. The Alto had the advantage of coming out three years later, and I’m sure they picked up on what didn’t work with the Juul, which is why they have a better-designed product.

And the Winner is…Alto

Let’s give a hand to Juul one time, huh? I mean, they were first, and they had a good product for a while there. It’s just that the  Alto is a much better pod mod. The Alto destroyed the Juul in every one of the above categories, and that’s because it’s better made and more consistent. Not only does it perform better, but it’s also more affordable. Overall, the Alto is the better the product, and if you’re thinking of buying one of these devices, I think it’s clear which one that should be.

Posted by Alejandro Medellin on Jul 15th 2019

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